2017 Newbery Honor: Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan


Let’s talk about this wonderful historical fiction picture book, Freedom Over Me: Eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life by Ashley Bryan. Everytime I read it I find more things I love about it, but my favorite element of this powerful story is thinking of all the kids who will read this book and have a profound emotional connection to it and what it symbolizes.

For many years Ashley Bryan collected slave-related documents, and being deeply moved by them he knew he had to bring their stories to life. He chose a document titled Appraisement of the Estate dated July 5, 1828 which listed eleven slaves for sale among some cows, cotton, and tools. Eleven people for sale like common goods. Eleven people treated like property, listed for sale as Man, Woman, Boy or Girl. No ages or identities, just gender, name, and price, as if that’s all they were.Bryan took what he knew about them, which was not very much at all, and gave them responsibilities, relationships, substance, purpose, but most importantly hopes and dreams.  


For many years Ashley Bryan collected slave-related documents, and being deeply moved by them he knew he had to bring their stories to life.




The illustrations are stunning and some of the backdrops are replicated slavery documents from Ashley’s collection. As you turn the pages you meet the eleven slaves one by one and learn about their duties as a slave on the grounds but also about their hopes and dreams and all the things they wanted to be and do when they were freed. It’s those hopes and dreams as well as the relationships they formed with other slaves that kept them going day after day through a stifling and oppressive existence.  

As you turn the pages you meet the eleven slaves one by one and learn about their duties as a slave on the grounds but also about their hopes and dreams and all the things they wanted to be and do when they were freed.
It’s easy to understand why this picture book is 
gaining so many accolades including:

2017 Newbery Honor
2017 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best 
Kirkus Prize Finalist 
NCTE Notable Poetry List 
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids

If you love this book as much as I do, you’re probably going to like these picture books too: Henry’s Freedom Box and Pink and Say. If you'd like to buy one for you or your local school's library, click on the link below:



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